Green Card Granted Despite Previous Denial Due to Involvement in "Pay to Stay" Scheme
June 3, 2024

Table of ContenTS

The Law Offices of Sabrina Li has been successful in assisting another client. This client faced a denial of his adjustment of status application due to involvement in a "pay-to-stay" scheme. We would like to share his case with you.  

Prior I-485 Denial

The client came to our office in 2023 after his adjustment of status was denied. He had filed for adjustment of status as the spouse of a United States citizen, but his application was denied in 2020 after the couple’s adjustment of status interview when USCIS discovered that he had attended Prodee University, a “pay to stay” school after entering on his student visa. His adjustment of status denial charged him with being inadmissible for making a material misrepresentation in seeking a visa and admission into the United States.

Inadmissibility for Material Misrepresentation

If an individual is found to have made a false statement which is material to gain an immigration benefit, such as a visa or entry into the United States, they activate a ground of inadmissibility under INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i). This ground of inadmissibility is particularly severe because, unlike other grounds of inadmissibility which only last for a certain period of time, this ground of inadmissibility remains in effect for the person's lifetime. Therefore, we understood the high stakes involved if a waiver was not approved in our client’s case.

Tactical Legal Effort: Filing a I-601 Waiver

We assisted our client in re-filing his adjustment of status application, this time requesting an I-601 waiver for the ground of inadmissibility that had been triggered. Since the client's only qualifying relative is his spouse, and this young couple is generally healthy, we worked diligently to document the mental and emotional challenges the spouse would endure if our client could not remain in the U.S. We established that the client's United States citizen spouse would suffer extreme hardship by providing evidence of the spouse's dependence on our client, their ongoing fertility struggles, and the dangerous conditions in our client's home country.

Our client was again scheduled for an interview in 2024, in connection with the new I-485 application for adjustment of status. This time, our team helped our client prepare thoroughly to avoid any further delays or issues. The client was ecstatic when his I-601 waiver and adjustment of status were approved after the interview! He is now finally a legal resident of the United States after first landing on this soil 17 years ago.

Understanding the “Pay to Stay” Scam: Risks and Legal Consequences

“Pay to Stay” is an immigration scam where individuals or organizations charge foreign nationals for enrollment in sham educational institutions or other fraudulent activities to maintain their student visas and stay in the United States without attending legitimate classes. This scheme often involves creating fake student records, transcripts, and other documentation to deceive immigration authorities. It allows the participants to remain in the country illegally while the perpetrators profit from their fees. This practice is illegal and can result in severe legal consequences. For example, in 2015, three defendants, who allegedly ran a "pay-to-stay" scheme through three schools in Los Angeles – Prodee University/Neo-America Language School; Walter Jay M.D. Institute, an Educational Center (WJMD); and the American College of Forensic Studies (ACFS) – and a fourth school currently operating in Alhambra, Likie Fashion and Technology College., were named in a 21-count indictment. The indictment alleges a conspiracy to commit immigration fraud, a host of immigration offenses and money laundering. The conspiracy count carries a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison. The substantive immigration fraud charges each carry up to 10 years in prison. The money laundering charges carry a potential penalty of 20 years.  

The students who were once registered with these pay-to-stay schools might face serious immigration consequences, as our client did. A USCS or consulate officer might accuse them of being inadmissible under INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i) for fraud or willful misrepresentation. Such a finding might result in a lifetime bar for any immigration benefits one might be trying to obtain.

The example mentioned above is just one case where criminal charges were filed. There are many more "pay to stay" schools out there that have been investigated by the US government without filing criminal charges. However, as long as the US government is aware of such practices, international students involved in the scheme might face the same problem.

The Law Offices of Sabrina Li: Overcoming Denials

Sabrina Li, our founding attorney, is certified by the State Bar of California as a specialist in immigration and nationality law. Alongside her excellent team of legal professionals, they possess extensive experience with cases where clients are found inadmissible under INA 212(a)(6)(C)(i). We have successfully defended countless clients either through rebuttal or filing waiver applications.  

If you or someone you know faces a similar situation and requires the expertise of skilled professionals, look no further than the Law Offices of Sabrina Li. Call us today at (213) 375-8096 or email us at We are committed to providing the assistance you need, so please don't hesitate to reach out. We're here for you.

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